Monday, January 26, 2009

Crunch time for Given

It's crunch time for Shay Given as Manchester City are poised to continue their relentless pursuit of Newcastle United’s unhappy goalkeeper.

The Ireland international and his agent was due to have a meeting with Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear and managing director Derek Llamabias today when it is thought Given will urge the club to allow him to leave before the close of the transfer window.

Although the Irish goalkeeper released a statement last month to publicly air his grievances at St James’s Park, Kinnear has stubbornly refused to consider his sale because of his importance to their mission to avoid relegation.

That stance had not changed last night, but the 32-year-old is set to force the issue ahead of Newcastle’s trip to the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday night and an official transfer request is not out of the question.

The Donegal man is still immensely frustrated on Tyneside and the club’s transfer activity during the January window has done nothing to persuade him the team’s fortunes are going to markedly improve in the short term.

The Magpies have turned down two bids for Given since the start of the year, but City will return with a third in the next few days and expect to break the resistance of the United hierarchy with an improved bid. That could be a fee of around £9m, or a cash plus players package, with Newcastle already expressing an interest in City’s England Under-21 internationals Michael Johnson and Nedum Onuoha. Kinnear is still reluctant to part with Given, but fears the decision will be effectively taken out of his hands, should the player officially request to leave St James’s Park today.

The departure of Given will be acutely felt by the Newcastle United fans who, since Alan Shearer’s retirement, have come to regard Given as the team’s figurehead. But, after 11 years of loyal service, there is also little resentment towards the goalkeeper for wanting to get out of a club which has failed to match his ambition for so long.

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